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Sellout: George Lucas in HypeSpace

JonKatz posted more than 15 years ago | from the not-a-review dept.

Movies 271

Twenty years ago, people were delighted to discover "Star Wars" an original movie fueled by the power of mythology and some great effects. This isn't a review (I haven't seen the movie yet) but times have sure changed. "Phantom Menace" is being launched in a cloud of greedy, obnoxious, even shameless hype. Lucas, a self-styled Hollywood rebel, is proving himself to be yet another sell-out, his hypocritical posturing collapsing under the weight of countless toy store tie-ins and inter-galactic pizza and soda promotions.

A couple of months ago, Rob (CmdrTaco) Malda and I were trading e-mail about "Star Wars: Phantom Menace." He gracelessly reminded me that even though he?d seen "Star Wars" 100 times or so, he hadn?t seen it in a movie theater when it first came out (he would have been in diapers) and I had.

Alas, this is so. And given the insane commercial and media hype surrounding "Phantom Menace," I?m the lucky one. (This isn?t a review - I haven?t seen the movie yet.)

The original "Star Wars" came as something of a shock when it appeared two decades ago. It was promoted, of course, but before the age of Mega Hype it was possible to discover a great movie, rather than have one rammed down your throat and into every other orifice.

And the original "Star Wars" was discovered by transfixed nerds and movie lovers. It was a weird movie, half fairy tale and half comic book, yet a very human and accessible one. It proved an instant smash with almost everyone, ordinary ticket buyers along with the non-normal. It celebrated science fiction, technology and heroic oddballs all at once.

A pre -Web movie, fans had fewer ways of spreading the word, but the raves got around. The movie?s genuine stars were technology, animation, imagination and special effects. But in other ways, it was a very old story: the young man or woman called to a great adventure, one in which his community?s survival was at stake. He battles the forces without, but first has to conquer the ones within.

For eons, in various forms from Hercules and the Trojan war to "High Noon" to Batman, this idea has been an elemental myth in virtually every culture. Do we have what it takes to confront evil when it arises and threatens us and the people we love? Will we do the right thing, and comport ourselves with honor and dignity?

The power of myth permeated the original "Star Wars", and not by accident. George Lucas credited the late mythologist Joseph Campbell as a major inspiration for characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, and even invited Campbell, an academic and writer, to a special screening to view the "Stars Wars" trilogy at Lucas? Skywalker ranch in California.

The journalist Bill Moyers was there at the screening, too, and later recalled that Campbell "reveled in the ancient themes and motifs of mythology unfolding on the wide screen in powerful, contemporary images." Campbell, Moyers remembered, especially exulted aloud in the fact that Lucas had put an up-to-date spin on the timeless hero/quest.

"And what is that?" asked Moyers.

"It?s what Goethe said in Faust but which Lucas has dressed in modern idiom - the message that technology is not going to save us. Our computers, our tools, our machines are not enough. We have to rely on our intuition, our true being."

Campbell also loved the Darth Vader character - the dark and evil man in the mask - as a staple of mythology dating back to ancient wall scribblings.

"Darth Vader," he told Moyers in a later interview, "has not developed his own humanity. He?s a robot. He?s a bureaucrat, living not in terms of himself but in terms of an imposed system. This is the threat to our lives that we all face today. Is the system going to flatten you out and deny your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system so that you are not compulsively serving it?"

Re-reading this interview in "Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth," I couldn?t help thinking that twenty years later, that Lucas has lost touch with the spirit of his own creation.

Vader would now be out on the network in the employ of some giant corporation, or maybe a gargantuan tel-com, directing the Hype machine and pushing around the competition. Bill Gates doesn?t make it as a truly menacing figure who wants to hurt people, but the mammoth corporatism he has come to embody is creepy enough. It invokes empire, and hovers above us all like some giant spaceship, just waiting to plop down and squash us. And it definitely evokes a system that denies humanity.

Mostly, what I recall about the first Star Wars was the almost spine-tingling sense of simplicity, menace and drama.

There was the first appearance of Lord Vader, the ironic and deflating presence of Harrison Ford?s Han Solo (who, along with R2D2, kept the movie from getting too pompous or heavy-handed), and that curiously emotional moment when Ben Kenobi says to Luke: "Turn off your computer, turn off your machine and do it yourself, follow your feelings, trust your feelings."

And when he did, it worked. Luke rode a crippled, defenseless machine into a Death Star to save the world, and in the end, rose above all the machinery to get the job done. The dozen or so times that I saw the movie, that moment always brought the loudest applause.

If the original "Star Wars" invoked the power of myth, Phantom Menace invokes the power of hype. Lucas has shamelessly sold his soul, thus that of his movie, to magazine editors, TV producers, toy-makers, pizza and fried-chicken purveyors, and the massive corporations cranking out toys, books, calendars and videos. There?s almost no piece of Lucas?s story that he wasn?t happy to peddle to the highest bidder. One can only imagine how many - unlike the original figures -- were created with marketing tie-ins in mind. On May 3, Toys "R" Us sold 1.25 million units of "Phantom" products. According to Entertainment Weekly, tie-ins from the movie will probably represent the biggest event in the history of the toy business.

This week, Pepsi-affiliated Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken began a months- long, TV-saturated, cross-promotional campaign. Each restaurant will be turned into one of the planets in the movie. Each will have its own toys "that can?t be found anywhere else." KFC gets the Jar Jar Binks Squirter, Taco Bell the Anakin Skywalker Transforming Bank, and Pepsi itself is offering four separate commemorative soda cans. There are rumors that Yoda himself will soon be on the tube, guzzling pop.

Is that Lucas message, the point of one of the great creative works in all of popular culture? Get as much as you can? Embrace the bigness and squeeze it for every last nickel?

Yuk. This kind of hype isn?t just about making a few bucks. It?s about manipulating children in the name of greed and influence. It?s about ego and cash. This round, we?re not allowed to discover a great work; we?re nearly beaten to death with it, and it?s calculatedly cute, most profitable and commercial manifestations.

The cacophony is demeaning to Lucas and to his film and insulting to his audience. It?s hard to know which would be worse: if "Phantom Menace" is a great movie defiled by Lucas and his marketing tie-ins or, if it?s a crummy movie lost in the cloud of hype.

Every big movie arrives in a cloud of tie-ins, toy promotions and fast-food marketing schemes these days. Lucas can?t be blamed for that. But if any producer every claimed that his movies were not like all the others, it?s Lucas. The gross commercialism of the pre-Phantom Menace campaign has gone way beyond the usual hard sell, especially given that he has worked to studiously to invoke the image of the pure, independent, anti-Hollywood producer, holed up in his far-from-LA compound in the interest of art and integrity.

Lucas himself has graced the cover of Wired and even corrupted Popular Mechanics (which refers to "film genius" George Lucas) and the films? various stars have fanned out to be photographed for the covers of Time, Newsweek, Premiere, and Vanity Fair. This doesn?t count the barrage of TV appearances ("60 Minutes", et al) scheduled to be unleashed this week.

And for good measure, he?s turned a chunk of the Web into a giant, teeming fanzine and Star Wars shopping mart. X-Files and Buffy sites are crammed with adoring fans too, but they aren?t droid like. They can also be independent, creative and original - their members sometimes writing original episodes when their programs are in hiatus, sometimes even breaking news the producers don?t want to get out. But many of the Star Wars sites are simply worshipful, the movie a faith rather than an imaginative amusement.

Contrast the irony of the man who loudly prohibits any form of advertising in or around his movie in theaters with the one behind money-grubbing sales outlets like the Star Wars Store. The one behind the "paper-engineered" Pit or Battle droid display that can be ordered with the purchase of any of the scores of "Star Wars" titles, calendars, toddler books, paper-action figures and other paraphernalia being sold in chains and books stores.

Lucas himself seems tired of his humble origins, eager to shed his geeky roots, to come in from his self-imposed cold and join the pantheon of mainstream, big-time Hollywood producers. In his interviews, he?s gone to great pains to cast himself as a normal (read: non-geek) guy, sitting at his California breakfast table, appearing in most of his interviews in a plaid shirt, talking about his kids, his digital backlot and his past life as a Hollywood rebel.

Seems like he?s embracing some myth off-screen, too. These days Lucas seems as much of a rebel as Bill Gates, and even more greedy.

The truth is, director James Cameron of "Titanic" (probably not as nice a guy, by most accounts) showed a lot more courage and rebelliousness in the making of his movie. He actually risked forgoing his share of the profits in order to go over budget to make the kind of movie he wanted. "Titanic," was plenty hyped, but Cameron knew to stay away from Pizza Hut, and avoided Lucas? holier-than-thou posture.

Is hype without limit or shame or any shred of dignity? Isn?t there some boundary between a lot of bucks and every buck? Nobody needs that much money, and the avalanche of toys and tie-ins has already obscured the power of myth that suffused the original "Star Wars," no matter how good "Phantom Menace" is or isn?t. We should have been prepared by the end of the trilogy: remember those revolting Ewoks?

"Star Wars" was a breathtakingly original idea in its day, but for all the intergalactic battles, the original movie stayed refreshingly grounded. Ford?s Han Solo was constantly smirking at all the chatter about the Force, Princess Leiea was stuck with that awful hair, and the Empire?s white plastic foot soldiers were profoundly cartoony. The movie never forgot that it was a simple story at heart - high stakes, good guys versus bad guys, the real weapons being good hearts and plenty of guts.

Reeling under the deluge of magazine covers last week - the final straw for me was Vogue?s "exclusive" spread on "Star Wars Couture," complete with the outfits Natalie Portman wears around the Planet Naboo -- I told my family last week that I was considering skipping the movie. A protest against hype. My wife and daughter laughed.

They?re right, of course. I?ll go, eventually. But I?m glad I did get to see "Star Wars" the first time around, in a very different context.

It?s probably just as well that Joseph Campbell died before "Phantom Menace" appeared. It?s hard to believe he?d feel the same way that he did about the original: "?the movie communicates. It is in a language that talks to young people, and that?s what counts. It asks, Are you going to be a person of heart and humanity - because that?s where the life is, from the heart - or are you going to do whatever seems to be required of you by what might be called ?intentional power?"?

"Phantom Menace raises a different set of issues. Here?s Pepsi?s pitchman Hal Oates: "If you mail one of the Yoda cans back to us," he says on TV, "you?ll get a special collector?s check worth $20 - or you can hold onto the can for the future."

The next generation deserved better. Lucas has proven to be yet another sell-out and spin-meister, his hypocritical posturing collapsing under the weight of Toys ?R Us royalties and inter-galactic pizza.

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Serious Overhype! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889379)

Some of use were discussing this Saturday. We're wondering if this movie is going to be a bomb, in part because people are SICK of hearing about it. I've been a MAJOR fan of Star Wars since the original movie, and it was Star Wars that got me into Sci-Fi, but I'm tired of hearing about the Phantom Menace.

I'm also rather pissed off that the original Trilogy isn't available on DVD, and doesn't look to be any time soon! I was waiting to get a DVD player till it came out, but finally gave up on it in January.

Felt the same way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889380)

Lucas really annoys the heck out of me. He makes good movies, but he's a jack ass and a yuppie. Don't give me the bull that it's marketing execs forcing Lucas to do this. Lucas runs the show more so than just about any other producer, and as Katz mentioned, Cameron didn't sell out.

The pizza hut/taco bell/pepsi/kent. fried chicken commercial kind of shocked me. I wasn't expecting that kind of exploitation. I was also especially annoyed when Lucas started talking about cracking down on people trading pirated copies of the movies.

I'm waiting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889381)

I'm still waiting for a Star Wars condom commercial. It will happen.

Hype is needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889382)

Hype is what makes Star Wars what it is. Just look at the first three (I was very young.. but I remember Ewoks like it was yesterday). I have a Pepsi bottle with Star Wars on it.. and I may even stop by Taco Bell today. If you have a problem with hype you need to leave the US. Infact leave the Linux crowd too (glibc and Red Hat bring hype to my mind).

I 100% Agree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889383)

The kentucky fried chicken / pizza hut/ taco bell advertisement disgusted me.

The toys and everything... yes, that is hype and it is about making money, but they don't disturb me as much as ads such as that one.

Lucas created a mythology for me when I was young. I was born in 1971 and saw star wars in the theater. I was very young, and the movie affected me deeply.

Now, he is taking that mythology, those dreams, and perverting them. It hurts me the same way hearing my favorite songs being used to sell hamburgers hurts me.

This problem is much deeper than just Lucas. The problem is that on our culture, *everything* is product. Even our dreams.

Re:I'm waiting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889384)

Sheath your light sabers, gentlemen. :)

Re:Hype? What hype! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889385)

I don't want much TV and I have only seen the taco bell add but the key is the movie. *I* for one am going to see it and *I* am giong to enjoy it because *I* love star wars, I love the settings, the myth like story telling, all of it. I don't care if some reviewier doesn't like it, I don't care if it's hyped, *I* am going to see it because *I* love star wars. You should be happy George lucas is letting us in on his story instead of whining about TV ads.

*I* don't care about the hype, it doesn't effect the way I feel about the movie at all.

Lucas Selling Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889386)

I'm just replying to Katz's story...not intending to reply to a specific article...just my first time posting.

> Lucas has shamelessly sold his soul, thus that
> of his movie, to magazine editors, TV
> producers, toy-makers, pizza and fried-chicken
> purveyors, and the massive corporations
> cranking out toys, books, calendars and videos.

Oh, come off it. This is no critically acclaimed cinematic endeavour, just a fun film with lots of special affects that I will enjoy immensely.

The first three movies had PLENTY of merchandising. Lucas himself held the rights to it, which is why he has enough money to make this one. Lucas arguably started the tradition of selling merchandising don't accuse him of selling out, just being another smart businessman (in addition to a great artist) who recognized the possible profits in selling the rights to a name or product (ala

See you in the theater! Plenty of tickets still left in the Boston area...

Star Wars: Episode C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889387)

If Lucas was a sell out, he would have created about 100 bad Star Wars movies by now like: "Return to the Planet of the Star Wars" and "Star Wars 3D!" Instead, he is spending lots of time and money trying to produce the best movie he can, and needs to make money in order to fund it. He has basically created the entire special effects market that exists right now because of his desire to tell a *better* story.

He almost did not make any more SW movies because he did not think technology would be able to portray what he could imagine. Now with computers, he said he could create almost anything. (Which is why he is doing the next 3 movies).

Re:Felt the same way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889388)

Ok, um, guys? A reality check here. Cameron was making a movie about THE TITANIC DISASTER. Any sort of exploitation would be incredibly tasteless- tasteless beyond description. I'm sure that if he were making a film about another subject, it would be merchandized to the hilt. (Oh, and btw, everybody seems to have forgotten that titanic was destined to flop. You don't tie in to that. Not after waterworld. :D)

Lucas, OTOH, is making a Star Wars film, one that as Katz said, is a modern retelling of mythos. Hype would seem to be logical and entirely appropriate. I imagine if it were possible, there would be Theseus toys too for the little Greek kids. :D (And boy, would I love to see one. :D)

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889389)

#1) You'd have to be an idiot not to capitolize on your own creation, because somebody will in a CAPITOLIST society. Deal with it. It's called reality

#2) Lucas did not sell out. He could easily turn Star Wars into a television show or saturday morning cartoon, and he hasn't (yet)

#3) Anybody that doesn't "sell out" is an absolute freakin moron that is being shafted without knowing it. It's the way the world works. You can sell out or cheap out. Don't be a cheap out.

thankfully - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889390)

i don't watch tv, except to catch specific programs (on at 6:30, off at 7) and i typically turn down volume for commercials.

thankfully, i don't eat fast food often enough to know what's in the happy meals this week, what taco bell feels like throwing in with a soy taco, and what the marketing strategy of the corporation who owns them is.

because i don't give a rats ass

i'd like to see the episode 1, but i'm not in a really big hurry -

i don't want to hype the film for myself, i don't want to play into all of the marketing.

i want to just have that good time, which will find me whenever it does, and whoever i'm with, and we'll say "hell, lets go see star wars"

if you are concerned about the hype: yawn.. and turn the ID10T box off. cook a real meal and don't worry about this weeks promotional items at the local Microwaved Soy outlet.

if you don't want the hype to spoil the film then just don't listen to it, don't get in the position to have corporate america screaming in your ears -

and this is applicable to so many things. don't like an operating system? don't run it. don't like george lucas? watch someone else's films, relax, let other people watch them.

calling george lucas a sellout loser is pretty strong. i'd like to think that when jon katz has managed to write produce and direct all of the accomplishments that george has, over the span of a couple of decades..

nah, no flames from me.

i have no idea what marketing strategies are in place in what corporations, and i don't care

i'm going to see the movie sometime without letting some jackasses spoil it with the almighty buck.

Hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889391)

Wait let me get this straight:

This site is now bitching about the amount of hoopla associated with Star Wars. The site that has been posting Star Wars rumors for the last 3 months. The same site that has been mentioning Star Wars like, 3 time a week for the last 5 months. The same site that deletes or downgrades post from people that have been complaining about the incessant and trivial babble that this site has been posting for the last 6 months.

Uh, whatever. Well, as long as all of you are happy with this, 'cause I sure as hell am! I can't wait until the stupid movie finally is out, and then I won't have to hear about it, 3 times a week, for 6 months, on this site, only to have some twit complain about the overexposure on the same site. Twits.

The Other Extreme (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889392)

Almost everyone is complaining about too much hype and marketing, but what would have happened if there were no early press? No trailers on the net? No toys being released early? Probably everyone upset by the hype would be assuming that the movie sucked! What major summer movies of the past few years haven't had at least a few tie-ins?

I remember being at a Star Trek convention a few years ago; one of the panels was about how the over-commercialization of Trek franchise was ruining the series. The panel's "conclusion" was simple -- if you don't want the tie-ins, don't buy them. If you want something for enjoyment or decoration, go for it. Most items are produced in such quantity (now) that they'll never increase in value the way the old toys and collectibles did.

I have an ironic addition to that story: right before the panel began, one of the convention attendees was loudly bemoaning the *lack* of Babylon 5 collectibles. It seems that the creator of Babylon 5 didn't want the series to become a "franchise" with low-quality collectibles saturating the market.

Re:Star Wars TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889393)

there was the ewok adventure movie, then there was
the battle for endor movie, and also a ewoks
cartoon series.
-- i like my ewoks with lots of gravy and taters --

Why the surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889394)

For the past several weeks, it's been media-chic to bash Star Wars. Why not Katz too?

And like all other mainstraim mashing, Katz shows his wealth of ignorance as well. It's only now they he complains about the big KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hutt merchandising? Where was he in 1996 when Lucas signed the 4 billion dollar, 11 year Pepsi deal? Did he keep his eyes close to the commercials that ran during the release of the Special Editions in 1997?

But it plays really well. For years Lucas lamented about how the media bashed him and his films. I thought for sure with the new movie he would be praised without honest criticism. With the largely undeserved treatment he's been showered with, he's being put in the position that he works the best in and that people like to root for - the underdog.

Congratulations, Katz.


Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889395)

Lucas is so caught up in the technological aspect of movie making that he forgot how to write a decent script.

The screen play SUCKS. There is little to no interesting dialog and banter that the first 3 flicks were known for.

There is little to no character development in this film.

The giant gapping hole at the middle of the movie is the TOO CUTE Anakin. There is no development or explanation of how he turns evil.

The movie takes itself *Way* too seriously. Who is there too like in the piece of CGI cow manure? An annoying Jamican Fish Boy?

Re:Katz, the Inflamer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889396)

Actually, I was 14 when Star Wars came out, and the marketing that came after the movie opened positively *saturated* the public. Each film in the series had their own massive marketing campaigns. I'm sure you know the tale of Lucasfilm originally announcing the 3rd film's title as "Revenge of the Jedi" in order to trap the illegal merchandisers. I recall the Empire Strikes Back campaign was particularly brutal.

This time around, I've seen very little pre-marketing, except for that created by the fans and the media themselves. I applaud Lucasfilm's decision to hold back on the toys and such as long as they have.

Re:hey katz! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889397)

Of course you realise that even if Lucas made the movie in secret in his basement, then released it in secret in some repertory cinema somewhere in Utah, people would still go apesh*it over it.

Star Wars is self-generating hype; it's the fans that create the hype, not Lucas, not the media. The media buy into it because there's a buck to make. They see all the SW fans go, 'Man, I'd wait a MONTH in line to see this!' and realise they'll double their sales if they put R2D2 on the cover.

Denouncing Lucas is BS. All he does is make movies. It's like blaming him for being successful. I think what needs to be done is for all the diehard fans to take a breather, repeat 'It's just a movie', wait in line a DECENT amount of time, and then enjoy the pretty pictures and popcorn.

Selling out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889398)

George Lucas pretty much invented the modern concept of movie merchandising tie-ins. This was more innovative 20+ years ago than it is now.

20th Century Fox paid Lucas pretty meagerly for the first Star Wars but he did negotiate to keep licensing rights. Fox was willing to give him this only because they saw it as small change.

Star Wars made a lot of money at the box office, nearly all of which went to Fox; Lucas himself made his money off the licensing rights, which he leveraged to previously unimaginable (by movie studio execs anyway) levels.

Needless to say no studio gives away the merchandising rights now.

Is Lucas a sellout? Well, he's doing something now that he did 20 yrs ago so that he, as the inventor, could make some money off his work and not have it all go to the studio.

However, saying that Star Wars is some long-term philanthropic gesture/labor of love is wrong. Lucas has always been a very savvy marketer.

Cameron vs.Lucas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889399)

>The truth is, director James Cameron of "Titanic"

>"Titanic," was plenty hyped, but Cameron knew to
>stay away from Pizza Hut, and avoided Lucas?
>holier-than-thou posture.

Bad example, Katz. Cameron didn't stay away from fast-food chains -- I had either a Taco Bell or Del Taco "Terminator 2" cup, and there were plenty of other T2 marketing tie-ins (not to mention the Terminator 2 3D Universal Studios attraction which is only now getting ready for the public).

Not to mention those damn Titanic songs played over and over again on the radio, with dialogue clips from the movie.

Lastly, cut it out with those damn Windows editors which make apostrophes look like question marks to us Linux folks.

Re:Star Wars TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889400)

There was also a Star Wars christmas special that was aired .. once? And then never mentioned again.. I think that came between episodes 4 and 5

Well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889464)

I dunno, all the crass commercialism seems to have financed some R&D that looks to have paid off. Who cares about all the toys and crap? There was lots of toys and crap for the first three as well. Hell, I had most of it. All the hoopla, etc will be the furthest thing from my mind when i sit down to see the movie. Hell, he can sell all the crap he wants if it furthers the look and feel of the flicks.

Besides, theres a demand for all this stuff. Not from me mind you, I read the book (I hope Brooks got paid with a kick in the nuts, a 12 year old could have written that) and that was it.

Katz (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889465)

Imagine a movie selling toys, models, tshirts, bedspreads, pjamas, wallpaper! Wow! Bastards! Oh wait... it's Star Wars... they've been doing that for 20 years now.

Katz. Get a clue. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Don't see it. Don't watch it. Don't watch it when they re-do the special effects and re-release it in 15 years. It's not Schindler's List and it's not trying to be.

I know, you're just pissed because there isn't a wookie.

Hype? What hype! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889466)

I'm assuming that because I don't watch TV,
that this hype you're talking about is mostly
on the boober.
Cancel your cable subscription and you won't
have any problem with the hype.

Try it, it's wonderful.

Making Money != Selling Out (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889467)

Has the movie been changed in any way to make it more commercial? Does Yoda chug a can of Pepsi in the Movie? Does Darth Maul eat a taco or a slice of delicious Pizza Hut pizza in the movie? Although I haven't seen the movie yet, I can with full assurance answer no to all those questions. If Lucas had somehow changed his creation, his art, to be more commercial then he would have sold out; however, it is not selling out if you accept money from large corporations who have no voice in how your art should be done.

For Lucas to have sold out, there has to be something different about his art which would not have been there if he had not accepted money from the corporations. This is not the case; the movie is the same as it would have been regardless of whether he got $0 in licensing or $1 billion in licensing.

Re:Katz (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889468)

Schindler's List was so deep in exploitation mode, I fully expected them to release a line of assorted memorabilia. Amon Goeth action figures, death camp trading cards. Spielberg's right there with the best of them when it comes to sentimentalism-driven marketing -- the problem is, ideas carried by films such as Saving Private Ryan are far more pernicious than anything Lucas could ever come up with.


Reminisce, comparision, contrast (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889469)

I remember the day I walked into the movie theatre to watch Star Wars. It had debuted the night before, and I had caught enough information to learn that it was a science fiction movie with robots and spaceships. I breezed into the theatre the next afternoon (no lines ... this was the only time there were no lines for the entire run of the movie in a single theatre in the San Diego area) and had a most enjoyable time. The movie was good.

I actually went to see it again while on a tour of duty that brought my ship to Hong Kong. Theatres were much nicer there. Happily the movie was still in English, with Chinese subtitles. Did I mention that I was impressed by the theatre?

Yes, I did see the other two movies at the theatre. I didn't collect any of the neato toys, although my dad recently found an Escape from the DeathStar game that was made by Kenner and gave it to my now 8-year-old son. I taped the Bill Moyer interviews with Joseph Campbell (which cover a whole heck of a lot more than Star Wars) and thought he had some very valid points.

I don't idolize George Lucas. I've liked his movies. He is not a mythic character. I would consider some of the characters he has created in the Star Wars movies as mythic in proportion and quality.

Somehow, I've managed to miss almost all of the hype, the action figures and the commercials about the forthcoming "Phantom Menace" movie. I do remember seeing the second half of the first movie trailer (walked into the theatre a bit late for the movie I was seeing), and the visual look was neat. I wasn't planning on going to see the movie for a week or three after opening. I imagine there are a number of people out there who have had a similar experience -- the hype is out there, but I just don't see much of it.

Perhaps its because I don't look for it. If you don't watch a lot of commercial television, if you don't read [insert name of any entertainment/news] magazine, if you don't shop on a monthly basis at Toys R Us, if you spend time with your kids or read or listen to music -- the Hollywood Hype Machine(tm) just kinda passes over you.

I did get to look at a game card put out by Taco Bell/Pizza Hut/whoever. I was getting a quick bite to eat with my boys, and the 8-year-old picked it up. I read it over, and the movie is starting to sound a bit more interesting to me.

I still won't see it on 19 May, but I look forward to seeing the movie sometime before Summer Solstice.

Mr. Katz and I appear to have grown up during the days before movie tie-ins were part-and-parcel of the movie process. That was then, and this is now, and Oz gets milked for all its worth these days. There was a time last year when one couldn't seem to switch radio channels fast enough to cut off that darned 'Titanic' theme song. And I especially find the use of Apple computer equipment in movies to be ludicrous. But hey -- I liked the movie 'Titanic', and thought there were some nicely funny bits to 'Independence Day'.

Keep repeating: "It's only a movie". Apparently hyped in all the places that Mr. Katz looks, but hardly to be seen in the places that matter to me.

- David

Re:hey katz! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889471)

Actually, metallica DID sell out. Members of the band have admitted that they needed the money that the mainstream-type music offers.

Absolute Power... (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889472)

Nicely written, Jon, but while I am WAY sick by the whole hype and commercialism myself, I think it is simply a corroboration of the old syaing that 'Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely'.

*ANY* Star Wars sequel would have such incredible hype to live up to, that it would be impossible to meet any expectations of the fans - couple that with the incredible, overwhelming runaway marketing in the interest of the allmighty $$$ these days, I believe it would be hardly possible for any of us to resist the temptation of being abused...

In the end, the proof will be in the pudding, or rather in the theatres. Either Lucas has provided content that his audience will accept, in that case all of the hype and marketing won't matter - or the movie will not do as well as expected (it will still make tons of $$$), and Lucas has the opportunity to do better in the next two.

In the end, one thing to consider is that all of us were much younger when we saw Star Wars, and most of us have grown up in the interim - this comes, unfortunately, with other expectations and points of view.

Lucas points out, repeatedly, that his movies are for kids. *WE* were kids when we saw Star Wars, and what kids like, or how to present it to them HAS changed in the past 20 years.

We *WANT* Star Wars to feel as fresh when we see TPM as when we saw Episode IV, but, sadly, that simply won't happen. The best we can hope for is to get back in touch with that 14 year old in the back of us, and enjoy the ride.


Re:I wouldn't be so quick to label Lucas a sell-ou (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889473)

I, for one, admire Bill Gates. Getting to the point in his career where he can lay down the rules to the IT machine; dictating what standards users must adhere to in order to use his software; maintaining tight control over his licenses.

It is an envious position to be in. But I don't wish I were him. I don't know why.


I'm sorry, but I completely disagree (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1889474)

If Jon can come up with evidence that it was Lucas, or even his marketing people, that directed all the news media to talk nothing but Star Wars, then he can make a case about Lucas being the source of the hype. I don't know about you, but I personally have not seen even a TV commercial about Star Wars. Every thing surrounding Star Wars was created by the media themselves. They figure that it would be big, so the big news groups go after it, which causes their smaller affiliates to also cover Star Wars, which causes local markets to cover the local P.O.V., etc., etc..

With regard to the merchandising, you can't make the comparison between the old Star Wars, the new Stars Wars, or even Titanic. When the original Star Wars came out, there was no precendence. It was a low-budget movie, and they barely finished the movie. You can't tell me that there were no product tie-ins with ROtJ, what with all the Ewoks 'n stuff. And how are you going to merchandise Titanic? Your very own sinking ship?? It's completely different. James Cameron had to gave up his directing share of the profit because he is using someone elses' money. Lucas used his own money to bankroll the entire project. He has every right to sell merchandise from the movie in any way he sees fit. Notice that commercials for the product tie-ins did not appear until May. A typical Disney hype begins almost and entire YEAR before with product tie-ins and posters/poster boards in movie theaters. Phantom Menace posters were only available from their web site, and poster boards did not appear in movie theaters 'till well after the 2nd trailer came out.

I am sure there will be those who says all the restrictions on the actors to talk about the movie, and the tight control he exhibits over ever aspect of the movie is aimed at generating hype. Perhaps. But that's just one point of view. It could also be seen as a man trying to do the right thing, and not ruin his own vision.

That whole bit about technology. If Lucas had completed the movies as they were, why bother with a 2nd edition? Obviously it was because he never did put his vision into the original movie. Now that he can, he utilizes all that is within his power to make the vision come true. Technology corrupts, but only if you become dependent on it. Vader became completely dependent on it, but Luke still uses technology as much as he can. So does Lucas. He is not selling out to technology, he is making sure he can tell the story the way he wants it to be told. Only in this way can his dream be fully fulfilled.


Lucas and promotional tie-ins (1)

andrew (229) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889475)

Every big movie arrives in a cloud of tie-ins, toy promotions and fast-food marketing schemes these days. Lucas can?t be blamed for that.

Or can he? Salon's Charles Taylor sure seems to think so. []

Did Lucas, ever the hater of Hollywood, succeed in helping destroy it?


That *stupid* fast food commercial (0)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889477)

Lucas sold out, all right.

As if that sickening fast food commercial where the three Heroic Registered Trademarks(tm) rush off to save the Naboo system wasn't bad enough, some of the other merchandising is just bizarre - Darth Maul intertube sleds et al.

Anywhere else it would be okay, but for me (someone who was born the year Star Wars came out), it seems like this sort of blatent marketing is defiling an old friend. Toys and action figures are one thing -- they just helped out my imagination when I was six and wanted to be Han Solo -- but the rest is just too much.


Review of Star Wars (2)

Aaron M. Renn (539) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889478)

You should check out Excessive Use of the Force [] , a review of the Star Wars special edition by Jonathan Rosenbaum. He is the film critic of the Chicago Reader and IMO one of the most knowledgeable film writers in the world.

Re:Katz, the Inflamer (you TOTAL MORON) (1)

phil reed (626) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889480)

Please allow me to point out that the first wave of "Star Wars" collectable stuff did not show up until after the first movie had been out for a while. It was only after the studio realized they had a mega-mega hit on their hands that they started with the merchandising.


Re:hey katz! (0)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889481)

Posted by The Mongolian Barbecue:

no one said he can't. he just shouldn't. I can use my computer to transmit filthy foulmouthed flames to slashdot, but that doesn't mean I should.

Phantom Menace Hype, so what? (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889482)

Posted by Jester Hat:

How the hell cares about the hype, when did making money become a bad thing. Lucas has said himself that he doesn't like all the hype. It isn't him that is putting starwars on the cover of all these magazines and whatnot, it is the owners of the magazines. And why wouldn't they it sells!
And so what if George lucas makes some money off the movie? it is his right isn't it? It is not like the quality of the movie is going to suffer because of it. He didn't take all of these promoters suggestions on making the movie or anything they all came after the fact. So the phantom menace is 100% pure lucas. As it should be. But hey if someone wants to give me 2 billion dollars to promote a movie i made on my own am i going to say no?? HELL NO!! would you? Would you be saying something like, "oh no Pepsi, i can't take your two billion dollars then it would look like i was selling out." No sir!
I say sure keep the money rolling in!
I think the important thing to understand here is that Lucas didn't go out looking for all of this hype, it came to him. Pepsi came to him and asked for the rights to use his movie to sell their products, the magazines came to him asking to use his characters to sell their magazines. If he benefits from their use of his ideas then good for him! He deserves it. The second and most important thing to remember is that Lucas made this movie wholly on his own, in his own studios with his own employee's with his own money. It totally his vision and ideas that created it. all of the money that is now comming in is after the movie has been made. Had pepsi and all the rest had a hand in making the movie THEN lucas would have truely sold out because he compromised his vision for corporate money. As things are that has not happened and any money he is getting is well earned!

-Jester Hat
"The opinionated one"

Trust (3)

questor (960) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889488)

"Never trust the storyteller; trust only the story." -- Neil Gaiman, _Sandman_ issue 38.

hey katz! (0)

PHroD (1018) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889489)

lucas has said often that he didnt like all this hype thats surrounded Episode I, but he couldnt really control it, cause it just got out of his hands and the media etc took over as the hype machine

"There is no spoon" - Neo, The Matrix

For Free ? . . SURE ! (2)

LoCoPuff (1019) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889490)

I saw this one fact in Newsweek:

"Amount spent on advertising for The Phantom Menace: $0"

Lucas spent some big $$$ to make the movie but HE himself hasn't spent a DIME on advertising . . .

If I had a product and big time ad agencies and other establish big name brand types came to me and said "We're gonna advertise your movie on EVERYTHING we have . . and get this . . you won't have to pay a thing . . you know, we'll even PAY YOU to let us !"

I think he would be a FOOL not to take that offer!

Be it business or not, who can say NO to that !

And one more thing . . .

Control IS Power ! (as long as it's used for good)

Think of the Lucas thing . . the Orsen Wells thing with Citizen Kane . . . Mark McGuire home runs . . . all of the power came from CONTROL.

No one seems to understand that . . .

Just my TWO PESOS and a SHOT of CUERVO.

Let's hear it for discovering movies: The Mummy (1)

IKKenny (1062) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889493)

I was expecting a dry, atypical scarry mummy movie, and was instead greeted with a campy, enjoyable movie. Go see it before TPM hits the theatres.

Get thee a grip. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889496)

In the immortal words of Yogurt: "Moichendising, Moichendising, Moichendising".

The crass commercialism of STARWARS is nothing new. If you think that this is something limited to the first episode of STARWARS, you're just kidding yourself.

Mythology vs. Star Wars: The Myth. (3)

Phil-14 (1277) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889502)

I find myself in disagreement with John Katz much of the time, on a wide variety of subjects, but this time I would have to say I agree with much of what he's saying in this article.

I saw Star Wars when it first came out; I was nine years old at the time. I liked it, and liked Empire a bit more. I disliked ROTJ. As I grew older, and read more books, both science-fiction and non-science-fiction, I started to become more and more disenchanted with the Star Wars movies.

I am especially dubious about the Star Wars movies because of their attempts to push their synthetic mythology on people. I have actually gained familiarity with the original stories and myths, and philosophies, that Lucas drew on to create his stories, and frankly, the original myths are much better. The whole mythos of the Force, which seems like an attempt to weld together Manicheism and Taoism in an inappropriate fashion, is IMHO very misguided.

I think most of the people here are perfectly capable of reading about Taoism or Christianity or Homer or what have you on their own, and will find it more fulfilling than Lucas' synthetic feel-good attempt to combine all of them.

Personally, I think there's only one really good movie in recent years about mythology and "mythic themes," and I would recommend that everyone here see it: The Secret of Roan Inish.

And although I didn't agree with everything in the essay, Neal Stephenson's In The Beginning Was The Command Line has many interesting observations on the Synthetic Culture business. He also touches on a lot of the same topics in Cryptonomicon, which I'm currently reading.

ps: Jon, thanks for finally coming through and validating my decision not to put you in my Slashdot "kill-file" equivalent.

Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita

Merchandising, Merchandising, Merchandising... (1)

jCaT (1320) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889503)

reminds me of that scene in Spaceballs. Anyways, I'm sitting here drinking my Anakin Skywalker (tm) Special Edition (tm) Pepsi-cola (tm) and my Anakin Skywalker (tm) Special Edition (tm) Lay's Potato Chips (tm) (tm) (tm). I can't say I was there for the original star wars, but I remember some of the stuff from Jedi, and it was pretty bad... but this is beyond the scale of anything I have ever seen in my life. It started at the beginning of may, and it can only get worse as the summer goes on. To a certain extent it can be expected, but I think lucas went a tad overboard.

Hear hear. (4)

Mark Hood (1630) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889507)

I'm going to get flamed to hell and back for this one, but I agree entirely. No movie is this big. No event is this big. Nobody is this big.

Re: 'Discovering' a movie - I always like that. When you go to see something a friend said was pretty good and come out knowing that only a few of you (so far) know about it. Unfortunately, movies are now positioned as 'sleeper hits' - to try and capitalise on this. No longer will a movie be released to an unsuspecting market place, it'll be marketed as 'unknown'.

Perhaps it'll drive more people into art-house cinemas, where they can rediscover plot, characterisation, and genuinely innovative moviemaking.

I'll stop short of a call to boycott 'The Phantom Menace' (hell, I'm still going to see it when it finally opens in the UK) but if I keep hearing 'it's the movie of the millenium' (another pet peeve - the cinema is only just over 100 years old) I might wait for the next millenium.

In the meantime, go see something arty. It won't hurt you, and it'll give you something to think about.

Re:hey katz! (1)

Defiler (1693) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889509)

I agree, but Metallica pretty much did sell out by making Load. Not because the music was different, but because they tried to rewrite history. They were interviewed about it, and said "Don't call us Heavy Metal. We were never Heavy Metal. We have always been, and always will be, Pop."
That's bullshit, as any Metal fan knows. That's selling out. Ok, maybe NOW you're Pop, but trying to deny that you were ever Metal is bullshit.

"Liam and Lucas Rip Fan-dom Menace" (3)

MoNickels (1700) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889510)

The New York Post reports [] that Lucas is as disatisfied with the hype as anyone, but the article talks mostly about out-of-hand fans.

I blame the marketers and licensees, but fortunately, I've been immune to the hype: I don't have a television, and my embargo on Episode I news, gossip and talk has been very successful. Katz's piece is not about the movie, really, which why I'm here.

How is this selling out? (4)

kdoherty (2232) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889513)

A few notes on selling out:
1) Usually, selling out involves blatantly
reversing one's previously stated position.
2) Selling out (if we must use that term) always
includes not only a change in one's public persona,
but altering one's art to fit someone else's

Now, let's take Lucas. I see nowhere in Katz's
article where he cites Lucas explicitly stating
that he will not do promotions with fastfood
places, etc. This is all based on incredibly vague
implications as seen by Katz about the "myth" of
Star Wars, and the assertion that somehow these
things that have nothing to do with the movie
itself degrade the quality of the art.

Of course, none of this can be backed up by
pointing out examples in the actual movie, as
we haven't seen it yet. But Jon Katz still feels
the need to make blatantly ignorant statements
on the subject and defile a man whose work in the
past has been impeccable. I'll admit that I tend
to find Jon Katz's writings rather puerile and
generally foolish, this kind of attack on someone's
character shocks even me.
Kevin Doherty

Re:lucas is annoying me (1)

Helmholtz (2715) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889514)

I don't see how you get that idea. It is not your right as a fan to have a personal copy of TPM right away. And as far as Lucas being selfish, that's just plain absurdity. This man didn't have to make any more movies . . . EVER. But instead of doing what most red-blodded Americans would have done -- sit back on their pauches and sip lemonade on their front porch until doomsday -- he decided to undertake a 10-15 year project. And not only that, but he is paying for this project! So I have absolutely no problem with anything the man is doing. He could have spent his millions any way he wanted, and he chose to provide me and billions of other people three more wonderful movies. And about the hype. Katz needs to get a clue. Lucas is spending an incredible amount of money on these films. It appears that Katz thinks that Lucas should just do this pro bono. That is utterly insane. The man isn't able to maintain his artisitic integrity by personally funding his own multi-million dollar movies by throwing his money away. This project involves some very hard work, and I think Lucas & the Lucas machine (so to speak) deserve to reap any & all of the benefits of this massive undertaking.

Easy solution for overhyped... (2)

yack0 (2832) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889515)

It's all overhyped yes. Here's the solution:
Commercial for something star wars comes on, hit mute. Or change the station.
Dont go to Pizza Hut.
Dont go to Taco Hell.
Dont buy Pepsi (yuck anyway).
Dont buy an action figure.
Dont buy Star Wars shaving cream (no shit, there I was, in Walmart... )
Dont buy any of the souvenirs at all.
Dont write about it and hype it even more.
and last but not least,
Dont go and see the freaking movie!

Of course, if you dont go see the movie, that will be an article you'll miss out on writing.

BTW, I'm puzzled, you say in another post that you didnt get money for RttM? And yet you're promoting it on C-span and here and other shows.... who's getting that money? You're getting nothing? How is it that you make your living?

So... sorry we won't hear that TPM review from you Jon, since you won't be seeing the overhyped movie. Or maybe I'm sorry I will see that review.

Holiday Special anyone? (1)

AnOminous CowHerd (3188) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889518)

C'mon people, you're supposed to ignore trolls, not feed 'em. Katz is nothing more, nothing less. Katz's job is just to stir things up by saying something outrageous in the hopes that someone, ANYONE will notice. As to the silly marketing being something new...WTF...Remember: the Star Wars Holiday Special [] was made in 1978. Actually, I think there was MORE marketing & hype back then. Christ, when the first one hit I went see Darth Vader at Thalheimers; a JC Penny type dept. store when I was 7. I still have a big photo of Darth Vader that says Thalheimers on it.

Re:Creative (3)

Bjorn (4868) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889524)

One depressing note on the role-playing game, however: the producers of the game (West End Publishing) have lost the rights to the game, and they are now up in the air. Rumor has it that Lucas doesn't really approve of RPGs and may not give the rights to anyone.

Note that I have no idea of the truth to that rumor, but it would really be too bad. The Star Wars RPG has been pretty much universally acknowledged as one of the best systems ever made, and the universe really lends itself to role-playing. I have a group of friends with whom I have played since college, and we still have folks who fly in occasionally just to play.

It's interesting - one of the problems may be that the RPG was *too* successful. The authors for the books have openly acknowledged that they go to the RPG references for information about the Star Wars universe. The universe has probably grown more from the RPG than just about any other source. It seems like some of Lucas' control issues may play into not wanting the universe to be arbitrarily expanded by other people, as it has been.

In reference to Mr. Katz' column, I agree with a lot of what he says. I've been trying not to get too depressed about the seeming corporate onslaught, and also with some other seeming nastiness coming from the Lucas empire (notably, check out Daily Sci-Fi [] for the story of what happened when they tried to run a fairly innocuous little ticket giveaway contest). I guess the most depressing thing about this is the harsh reminder that this is only a movie, and that Lucas is still just the head of a corporation. I guess we all wanted to believe it and he were somehow more than that. I keep hoping I'll see some sign of that being the case, but as yet, that hasn't been the case.

On the other hand, the control regarding theaters and such has, I think, been mostly to Lucas' credit, and he has relented when it seemed to be in the fans best interest (i.e., buying advanced tickets). It really does appear that he was trying to make sure that everyone had a good experience seeing the movie, rather than seeing it on what is essentially a big-screen TV with bad sound, as a lot of theaters are. We need to give credit where credit is due there.

To sum up, I'm still very excited about seeing the movie, but a little of the magic has gone out of it for me, which just makes me sad. My only hope is that Lucas will see some of this and take it into consideration for Episode 2. I would certainly love to have him prove us all wrong.

Hope everyone has a good time at the film...


Right on Jon! (4)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889533)

I'm so sick of the hype. I mean, how much more shameless can you get than having taco bell, and the KFC guy in a star wars commercial. Really now, it's blindingly obvious the reality won't live up to the hype, and millions of geeks will try to cram in may 19th to see.. a movie.

This isn't a life-altering event, this isn't going to solve world hunger, promote peace on earth and good will towards men.. it's a movie.

I'll go see it after everybody else has. I won't be there at midnight listening to a bunch of 13 year old kids cheering whenever Yoda appears on the screen, and throwing popcorn arond. No, I'm going to enjoy it with a group of my friends well after all those people are done trashing the place. And it'll be a better experience for me as well.


Truly Speechless (1)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889534)

I got to hand it to you, rhuff, comparing excerpting RTTM with George Lucas marketing for Phantom Menace has left me speechless. Well, how bout one difference: I didn't get paid? Beyond that, you've truly left me slack-jawed.

Re:Katz, the Inflamer (1)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889535)

I kinda like Katz the Inflamer..But take it easy there, Ripp. We don't want an online seizure. If you compare the $between then and now, that was truly peanuts..Calm yourself,tho.

P.S. Merton and Pepsi (1)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889536)

Rob, while I respect the integrity of the question, I have to add, as one writer who has never made a nickel off of any book he's written -- that would be six -- I would have no trouble keeping Thomas Merton's picture off of a Pepsi can. God Help me if I didn't.
I don't fault Lucas for making some money (I'd like to), but it's a question of proportion.

Re:I agree (2)

spiritu (8757) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889541)

#1) This is simply not true. Capitalism (with an a - the word capitol refers to three things: Washington, D.C., the Roman temple of Jupiter, where the Senate met, or a U.S. statehouse (where a state legislature meets), according to Webster) isn't necessarily the best thing in the world. Pure capitalism can be synonymous with pure evil due to the nature of human being. Simply because this is true doesn't mean we should embrace it. However, capitalism and art are two things that generally should stay apart. As an artist, you should realize this because:

To maintain artistic integrity, one has to be free of the forces of censorship and repression, at least insofar as being "free" to say what you will or draw or photograph what you will, etc. Capitulating to the demands of *anything* can be shown to mean that you've lost some of your artistic integrity.

Which brings us to Star Wars. Now, admittedly, I'm not as into the hype as some of the other people in the world, nor am I one of those who follows Star Wars as a religion. That aside, not only is it tacky to put images from your movie on disposable plastic cups, lunch boxes, toys, magazine covers, etc., but it violates artistic integrity because the case can me made that, when such merchandising follows so quickly on the heels of a movie (which is an art form), one has deliberately placed these objects into the movie strictly for marketing value, and, possibly removed images from the movie which were or could be construed to be disturbing, and contrary to the "goal" of making lots and lots of money.

To sum up and give yet another perspective on why capitalism and art are not two things that mix well, examine, if you will, the actor, the artist, and the whore. All of which perform their craft for the entertainment of others, for money. All of which, if they're supremely excellent, truly enjoy and believe in what they're doing. What actors, artists, etc., strive for is to not be that whore. That's why there is such a concept as artistic integrity. This is why Lucas doesn't meet this test and such could be referred to as a whore, because he sold himself for the money that promised to arrive. It's not evil to make money - far from it. But to sacrifice your integrity for that money - that's not right. This is the crux of what Katz attempts to argue. I'm inclined to believe that while the hype surrounding this film *is* pretty high, I still remember collecting Star Wars toys (and there were *plenty*) as a child. It's nothing new, but that doesn't make it right.

Why shouldn't he make money? (3)

DMC (10005) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889545)

I mean if people are willing to pay all sorts of money for paraphanalia (sp?) and food in containers adorned in Star Wars characters, then more power to George so he can make more good movies. I've read and heard of the restrictions placed on manufacturers, resellers, advertisers, and anyone else who wants to use or sell Star Wars related gimmicks and products. Of course there's hype to end all hype...we've been waiting for 20 years!!! Considering the anticipation, I'm surprised there isn't more advertising and gimmicks. The only one I've seen thus far is the taco bell, pizza hut, and kfc commercial. I've seen displays in bookstores to sell the books, and I even bought the soundtrack. I haven't listened yet because I want to hear it in the theater first. What's amazing is the lack of promotion and advertising. I haven't seen a tv commercial for it yet, but every other major movie does. why not? Because it doesn't need it. Everyone knows, and everyone wants it so bad they can taste everyone else tasting it. Where is Lucas during all of this? He's keeping whatever grip he can on the way his vision is used. I will bet vital parts of my anatomy that if this was being run by a marketing guy, we'd be bombarded by advertising and gimmicks and merchandise. It's no worse than anyother major movie. ID4 had more promotion from what I remember.

Leave George alone so he'll finish it out and give us great memories.


Sellout? How so? (1)

Dr. Jest (10116) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889546)

Jon, I may not always agree with your posts, but generally, they do seem like there's some thought put into them. However, your recent postings have had sort of a "knee-jerk" quality about them, especially this one. I hate to point this out, but the Star Wars series has always been inherently commercial. I remember when I was little, Star Wars stuff was everywhere. Toys, restaurant promotions (yeah, they had them then, too), kids books, comics, etc., etc. There has been no selling out, just an increase in demand and the media rising to that demand. And the movies themselves are very much geared towards manipulating the audience also. Even the merest concession to reality, the explosions in space thing, was ignored by Lucas. When scienc-fiction writer and movie novelizer Alan Dean Foster was talking to Lucas about this issue, pointing out that you cannot hear explosions in space (so the story goes), Lucas said that the explosions were there because people wanted to hear explosions. Lucas has always been out to manipulate people like this, and the current hype is just an extension of this. And since you admit to not having seen the movie yet, how can you say that it is lacking in the mythical quality? If anything, so far it looks like the acting, writing, and effects are all vastly better in this movie than the three previous ones. Plus, there's no Mark Hamill, so that's a good thing. Really, Jon, you'd get a much better reception if you would just think things through before you stick them up on the Web.

I wouldn't be so quick to label Lucas a sell-out.. (3)

xyzzy (10685) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889548)

While I concede the points in your article, I really admire Lucas for getting to the point in his career where he can literally lay down the rules to the Hollywood machine.

From what I understand, Lucas financed TPM by himself; he has dictated what standards theatres must attain to show his movie; he has maintained tight control over his licensees. And through all this, he is beholden to no one other than himself, making exactly the movie HE wants with no other influence other than his desires.

In my mind, that's a pretty envious position to be in. *I* wish I had a job over which I had total, 100% control -- don't we all. Yes, he may be accused of playing the commercialization card to the hilt, but I'd rather have him do it than the Hollywood Menace.

george is a bizness man (2)

willhelm (12091) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889556)

As i recall, before the original Star Wars opened, George Lucas was going around the toy industry trying to get companies to back his star wars action figures. Most of the companies said that it wasn't what kids wanted, but George kept trying--until he hit Kenner (i think it was kenner--might have been Hasbro--shrug). They said ok and after star wars launched it created the action figures industry and whichever company it was that produced the action figures--they made a bazillion dollars.

My point being that George Lucas is not as you have portrayed him. Amongst other things, he is a business man and he is putting forth lots of effort to make money. Even back then though you may not have noticed it much.

I remember watching The Power of Myth and marvelling at the depth that Star Wars had through Joseph Campbell's eyes. But I wouldn't be surprised if Joseph Campbell helped make the Star Wars trilogy what it is today by instilling that mythological quality--and George Lucas just packaged it all together.

I really think that much of this mega-hype is planned. It's unfortunate that some of us got so sick of it months ago and now it's like you can't hardly sneeze without spraying some new Star Wars mega-hype fu-fu thing.

Re:Katz, the Inflamer (you TOTAL MORON) (1)

Quikah (14419) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889560)

Actually it was Lucas who did the merchandising, he made sure to obtain these rights from Fox because he felt that they would not promote the movie properly and of course he made a fortune because of this. He says this in many interviews.

My memory is a little vague, I was only 4 at the time, but I remember getting certificates for the action figures pretty early on (a couple of months after release?) because they were not ready yet.

Re:Lucas and promotional tie-ins (1)

Quikah (14419) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889561)

This is an argument that has been going on for a long time now. "Star Wars and Jaws ruined the movies." The only problem with this is that it doesn't hold any water. If these critics would open there eyes and actually go to a movie once in a while they will see how much better the movies are now than they ever were. I am not talking about the mega blockbusters. Go to the movie section of any decent sized city paper and you will see a slew of independant, foreign, thought provoking, and groundbreaking movies. Of course because of the tremendous volume that is coming out now the volume of crap has risen as well. If these critics want to sit in there black and white sacarine movie worlds they can go right ahead, I will be enjoying some of the best cinema that has come around in years while still enjoying the older classics.

Whatever happened to tact? (1)

zealot (14660) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889562)

Isn't there anyone who believes in tact anymore? If someone has a good idea and it becomes popular, it's raped for all it's worth to make as much money as fast as possible. I picture the Pony Express in the old west, with all messengers riding their horses to death for speed rather than taking care of them. In this case I'm not going to specifically blame Lucas... people and the media have been hyping this movie forever.

And it's hard to place blame, so I'm not going to try. I just wish people, businesses, and the media could have a little more tact... a little more decency, instead of being so greedy. If they have a truly great idea or product, it will sell without being crammed down everyone's throats 24 hours a day.

Marketing execs & not Lucas? (1)

Visoblast (15851) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889564)

All the marketing of toys and hype might be more attributable to marketing execs than Lucas. Its quite probable that Lucas cannot escape them with anything to do with Star Wars. I have seen an interview where he states that the film is over-hyped and cannot live up to the hyped expectations.

As for the publicity that directly surrounds him, that's not surprising at all.

hype (1)

lazzz (15995) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889565)

I've actually grown accustomed to hype.
I need and crave hype. Hype for hype's sake. I'm going to get a second job so I can buy it all!
Star Wars rox, Empires rox,and Jedi well hated the ewoks. I'm an optimist I think it will be a good movie not the movie of all time but a good movie. BTW which sci-fi universe do we think is the best Star Wars or Star Trek? My vote is Star Wars. If Lucas was wanting to make money he would havbe turned star wars into a sci-fi show like star trek a long time ago. I have my tickets for Friday night woo hoo!
Use the scwartz

Hold it right there (2)

Straker Skunk (16970) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889569)

This is why works of fiction are not GPL'ed.

Artistic integrity is a very different animal from closed source.

Alright, I've calmed down a bit.... (4)

Ripp (17047) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889570)

OK. Jon makes some valid points about the whole Star Wars Saga(tm) and it's deep meanings, it's effect on us all, and for that I'll give him a little credit....

Mr. Lucas himself has stated several times that Lucasfilm *itself* has purposely kept the hype down to a minimum, on *their* end. And I would tend to agree that there could have been a LOT more hype. I don't think the hype surrounding this movie has been any worse than that accompanying, say, "Jurassic Park" or "Toy Story" or even "The Flintstones" a few years ago. The difference being that they all faded away into oblivion, whereas Star Wars will be remembered for years to come.

Now, back to the hype. The licensees and the news shows are the ones creating most of the hype out there. What have we seen from LFL? A couple of trailers, a few low-key, and sparsely played TV spots, and a music video. Meanwhile, Hasbro has saturated the Toy Stores, the Pizza/Taco/KFC trinity is lambasting us w/ their stuff....blame them, if you're going to blame anyone.

And re: the fans and their 'droid'like tendencies to worship rather than expand Star Wars in their own ways....There *are* plenty of fan-written chapters out there, have been for years. There is fan-art aplenty....etc, etc. And after all, why mess with perfection?

This ripping-on-the-fans stuff in the media as of late is getting old real fast. Now you've joined those ranks me friend.

Katz, the Inflamer (you TOTAL MORON) (5)

Ripp (17047) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889571)

Alright, I've stayed out of the Katz-flaming to date, but this one takes the f*cking cake.

Katz, in short,

How can you possibly put the previous Star Wars films up on some kind of holy pedestal, seemingly oblivious to any sort of "hype"...

Where WERE you 18 years ago, my friend? Were you on some far flung corner of the MOON? Were you not present for the many Burger King Glasses, the infinite toys, the Star Wars Popsicles, the T-shirts...WHERE WERE YOU?

This is NOTHING new!!!! Go find Mr. Peabody and jump in the old wayback machine to circa '79 or '80 when the hype was in full force. Hell I was only 8 or so then, and *I* remember it being all-consuming. It so consumed the passions of this entire country that the 'product' was in demand enough to warrant said 'product.'

This article is nothing but pure, sheer ignorance and inflammability, whether on purpose or out of true ignorance, I can't say. Sure you're right about SW being the 'modern myth' yadda yadda boom boom...and I agree fully.

BUT...don't try to tell George about how his artistic integrity is somehow violated because there are action figures and coloring books w/ his movies' marque on them. He'll be the first to tell you, while yes it is a modern myth, etc. etc., it's also just a Saturday afternoon serial....

....And every kid wants his Red-Ryder BB gun....

Re:hey katz! (3)

Sancho (17056) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889572)

Regardless of whether he wants the hype or not, Star Wars is his movie. It's his creation. If he wants to hype it, he can.

Jon acts like Star Wars is something he owns. I'm rather happy to tell him that he's wrong.

As a friend of mine once said, "George Lucas could show two and a half hours of his hairy ass, and people would still go to see it." We care about Star Wars because of what it is. We certainly hope that SW:PM lives up to Episodes 4-6, but if they don't, we shouldn't feel cheated out of the experience. Lucas can do whatever he damn well wants with these movies.

Saying he is selling out is like saying Metallica sold out with their album Load. It certainly was different, and more mainstream. But if that's what they wanted to do with their music, that is THEIR choice. Saying they sold out because of it is your infantile way of saying they don't have a right to go the direction they want to go.

TPM Hype (1)

Tom Bombadill (17942) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889574)

I was 8 when the first movie came out and I can still remember it had its fair share of hype. I recall the Wonderbread trading cards the most. I didn't even like WB, but I made my mom buy it. I had all the toys. Because I wanted them. because it was fun. 20+ years later I am still buying toys...because I want to. Because it is fun. SW has always been about fun. Lucas never intended to be an "artistic" filmaker. SW is about fun and enjoyment, and to some, like me even the hype can be enjoyable. I watch the trailers over and over and still get excited. I bought a ton of toys. My wife (bless her) even *encourages* me to buy toys because she says I look like a happy little boy when I buy them ( I am a 30 year old 5'7 215 pund Bodybuilder-Sys Admin). Some of the hype is Darth Maul underwear....but werent' there Darth Vader Underoos at some point??? Besides some kid will get his mom to buy them for him and he will be *happy*. It is all about kids being happy. No matter how old we are. And George...thank you for making me happy for more than 2 decades....I suppose the only thing that makes me stop for a moment is how people who would have never have admitted being fans of SW 20 years ago are now suddenly die-hard fans. I guess I lost one of my vestigal childhood geek-prides....I can see the effect of mass hype there.

Lucas isn't the bad guy ..... (1)

MISplice (19058) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889578)

The only problem I see with this article is it's attack against Lucas as a money hungry movie maker. He has had no hand in the marketing, besides the release date, or the liscensing of the rights. That is done by a bunch of money grubbing lawyers. I have read many interviews and in all Lucas has stated he didn't want this much hype , because along with hype comes expectations, and if you fail those expectations then you will fail completely. I think the major reason for all the hype is all of us 20 somethings that grew up with Star Wars have been calling for more and we finally get it and all we do now is complain about what we are seeing.

Star Wars TV (1)

TechnoHawk (19420) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889580)

Lucas did turn Star Wars into a TV show. Don't you remember Droids or Ewoks? I'm still trying to forget them. There was also a live action special I seem to remember, barely. Something based in the SW universe. Anyone remember what it was?

Hystera level almost frightening... (5)

Fish Man (20098) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889583)

I remember seeing the original Star Wars movie in the theater.

I was living in Minneapolis when it came out and the St. Louis Park Cinema had an area exclusive on it.

This was almost the last hurrah for that theater, which was a grand and gigantic one screen movie theater of the old fashioned kind.

It had a humongeus curved "surround" screen that had been designed for "Cinerama" moves (the type shown by three projectors at once). A thick gold glittery curtain slowly parted to reveal the screen as the movie started.

I did think that Star Wars was perhaps the best movie I had ever seen.

The St. Louis Park Cinema closed a year or two later, run out of business by the multi-screen cineplexes at the malls.

Now, all these years later, "The Phantom Menace" is about to debut. I'm sure it will be an enjoyable movie, and I intend to catch it within it's first few days out. But, I truly never thought I would live to see such hyperbole and hysteria over any movie.

To those who have been camping out for the last three or four weeks to get a ticket, I'll be about the millionth person the scream at you: "IT'S A FSCKING MOVIE FOR CRISSAKES!"

By definition, anyone who has nothing better to do than to sleep in a tent on a sidewalk for weeks on end just so they can make sure to see the very first presentation of a FSCKING MOVIE at their local cineplex has no bloody life whatsoever, period!

After this mythical "first showing" at hundreds of theaters nation wide, I'm sure that I will have no problem calling the automated ticket sales phone line of my local mega-cinema ("The Palace" here in New Orleans), and scarf me a couple o' tickets to a showing on the second, third, or fourth day. No big deal, and I'm happy.

The fact that there are so many people out there willing to dedicate weeks of their life to camping out to ensure they see that "first show" indicates just how the masses can be brainwashed by hype and effective advertising. In a very real sense, this is scary. Individual independent thinking is apparently a rare commodity in today's society. Suppose the hype engine that is producing the "Phantom Menace" hysteria were to be used to sell the masses on some sort of race hatred or ethnic cleansing campaign? Think about it.

Since there are so many people willing to get this worked up over a FSCKING MOVIE however, I really can't say I blame Lucas et. al. for milking them for all they're worth!

Creative (1)

mbrannig (20700) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889586)

How about the load of books out there??

Also, I play the Star Wars Role Playing game -- I'd call that pretty creative. We've had several alternate post ROTJ and post Zahn books universes...


What a surprise!...............NOT! (1)

Ratface (21117) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889587)

Come off it, of course Phantom Menace is surrounded by hype. That's what happens with films these days. I seem to remember that it was the Star Wars movies that basically founded movie hype (along with maybe Grease and Saturday Night Fever).

I dislike the circus that goes along with anything like this these days too - but hey - wake up! It's the world we live in. Moaning about it is like wanting to go back to a world without computers.

We talk about the New Economy on the one hand as an amazing change in our lives, but don't forget that a big part of the New Economy is cross-promotion and making your bucks from sources other than product/ticket sales.

Finally, Lucas may be big - godlike in many eyes - but stuff like this is just out of his hands.

In the meantime, why don't you try ignoring the hype, or at least disassociating it from the movie, and just concentrate on getting into that cinema, sitting back in that seat and enjoying the ride.

(And afterwards, you can eat your *EmpireBurger tm* and wear your "I saw the first episode" beany hat with pride)

Re:Hear hear. (1)

rico23 (21492) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889588)

It's always good to look for new things, but you shouldn't abandon the 'old' things automatically just because they aren't new anymore.

Let the movie stand on its own merits. It's only a few more days and you can actually see for yourself.

The big problem with the hype is that there's so much it has a chance of eliminating any ration judgement of the movie itself. Just try to ignore it. That's what I've been doing (trying, anyway). I want to see how the movie is for ME. That's the important thing. Don't write it off just because there are 1.23 million media outlets trying to outdo one another in publicity.

Re:Hear hear. (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889589)

Note that LUCAS is NOT calling this the movie of the millenium. Blaming Lucas for something that other people said, and taking his movie to task for it, is rather inappropriate, don't you think?

Hype and quality are on orthogonal axes. (2)

Moofie (22272) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889590)

Look, people, the hype DOESN'T MATTER. It's safe to say that any movie/director who appears on every major news magazine's cover in the space of a month is pretty well hyped. These very news magazines are whipping themselves into a froth about the hype surrounding this movie, hype which THEY are responsible for making.

What's Lucas to do? There's a HUGE grassroots fan movement around this movie. The fanboys (myself included) are beside themselves with anticipation for this movie. It IS only a movie, but it's a BIG FUN movie that I've been waiting a good long time to see. If he declines all these interviews, he becomes a reclusive antisocial hermit. If he accepts all these interviews, and tries to communicate his goals for these films, he becomes a narcissistic sell-out. He's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. What would YOU do in his situation?

As far as the marketing blitz, it's annoying. It's kitschy. It's pretty darn grotesque in the form of that Taco Bell/KFC/Pizza Hut commercial. However, it's ALSO American business. Would YOU refuse that enormous pile of money? I know that I can't say I would.

George Lucas is in my opinion making quality films for children. They're not soft-pedaled Barney crap, but they're also not Reservoir Dogs (and that's a Good Thing IMHO). It just so happens that a bunch of us who were the target audience for his last films are VERY VERY excited about this next batch. I can't understand why that's a bad thing.

Re:P.S. Merton and Pepsi (1)

rhuff (22750) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889591)

OK, you've got me there. I was reasoning from insufficient data. However, this does bring up a question:

How does one manage not to make anything off a single book he has written? This is intended as an honest question, not a flame: Do your books sell poorly? Or have you negotiated very poor contracts with publishers?

Have you considered experimenting with alternate means of selling your material? This is something you seem to have at least thought about, judging by the ad hoc RTTM campaign.

Run to the Mountain? (2)

rhuff (22750) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889592)

While I too long for simpler times when it was possible to have a piece of art, an event, or a building that wasn't sponsored by some huge corporation, I have to question Jon's integrity.

I think that he honestly believes that he believes what he wrote, but his own actions in hyping Run to the Mountain here, differ from what Lucas is doing only in degree, not in essential manner.

Jon: would you honestly have refused a Pepsi ad campaign for RttM if it had been offered?

lucas is annoying me (3)

JEP (28735) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889604)

Yes, I too have been a bit annoyed by Lucas. Most recently, I was saddened to see he plans to not release Star Wars on DVD until all 3 prequels were done. This is just ridiculous. The fans are what made Lucas, yet he is incredibly selfish when it comes to meeting the requests of the fans.


Is it SO bad? (2)

oMaT (29689) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889605)

Go see it or dont.
Pay attention to the hype or dont.

Yes, its a damn shame that Lucas has chosen this route to pitch his film. It is a sort of slur against the 'soul' of the original film(s)... But is it so bad?

I mean, Katz just said it.. Lucas is no longer portraying himself as a hollywood rebel. So he's gone mainstream. So what? The guys got a right to do so. We stand here and covet a movie made twenty years ago for its beautiful values and ahead-of-its-time special effects that gained popularity through its purity more than anything else... And then we decide to make Lucas the villian today when he has grown up and grown into his station in Hollywood. A station he has because WE gave it to him.

Its his life. Its his movie.
He's hardly Gates-ish.


Things sure look different from the sewer... (1)

Wah (30840) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889607)

...than on the mountaintop. I find it difficult to condemn someone for being too successful, what I condemn them for is hypocrisy. Katz with all the promotion you've done for your book, don't you think all of this falls under the same heading? Didn't you, *gasp*, do a book tour to propogate your ideas?

Of course there is another issue at stake here. Something I've heard about how Lucas has approached a particular issue. In this case it would have to be the defense of I.P. The exchange of ideas for money. "You can use this image and make money for it because you paid me, and you, who might have an actual emotional tie with this image, cannot in any way shape or form reproduce redistibute or oven think about it without sending me a royalty check, in advance."

Sure they are his ideas and he's, I guess, entitled to gettin' some, but when things reach a certain critical mass in our culture it exposes the stupidity of many arguments. When pop culture reaches religious prportions perhaps we should step back or up for a moment.

And an interesting, albeit trivial and most likely erroneous, tidbit I've picked up somewhere (could have been here)... the total merchandising bill for Star Wars Ep1-$4.5 billion. The total cost for Reagan's Star Wars initiative-$4.11 billion. Nah, we don't have too much leisure time in this county, do we?

Dolt! (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889608)

Yeah, that Mean Old George Lucas (MOGL). There he goes wanting to make MONEY from the Star Wars religion. How crass! And all of those evil, tie wearing corporate types out there who would actually defile the images of our great and blessed Saints (Luke, Obi Wan, Yoda, etc) for nothing better than to sell chicken. HOW DARE THEY TAKE THE NAME OF YODA IN VAIN!!!

Katz, you and anyone who agrees with you are nutz. It's a movie. A figment of imagination created by quickly flashing images in a dark room. It is meant to amuse people for a short while. George Lucas (Mr. Mogl) and all the actors worked hard for a long time to make the flickering images as amusing as possible. They did not do it as an atonement for sins. Believe it or not, the people who make movies actually do it to get rich!!! Get over it. If you are bothered by the fact that you have to pay people to amuse you, don't pay them.

Don't buy your kid a Happy Meal. Don't go to Pizza Hut. Fry you own damn chicken. Pay for a billboard to cry out in the darkness that the truly faithful should avoid this abomination that profanes the holy name of the Force. MOGL doesn't care. He has done the movie for mainstream Americans, and we LIKE the hype. (proof? how the hell could so much money be made off of the hype if we didn't like it).

PS. I use Netscape 2.02 on OS/2. Many of your characters appear mangled. You wouldn't happen to be using a Micros~1 product to edit you HTML would you?

Even Coin World bought into the hype (1)

Melbert (31564) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889611)

I as disappointed to say that even the Coin World newspaper has bought into the hype. There was a fairly long article in the latest issue about medals and numismatic items related to Star Wars. I predict it won't go down well with hardcore coin collectors (I can't wait for the outcry in the letters columns for the next few issues). Coin collectors don't even want bubblegum card collectors and other junk vendors at coin shows.

Re:hey katz! (1)

thal (33211) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889613)

There's some of it he couldn't control (like the local news playing every trailer), but certainly he was in control of his own interviews and the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC deal. The Fox studio is only distributing the movie in a deal that Lucas pretty much dictated to them. Any marketing related hyped is most definitely his doing. Now the news articles, etc. is simply the media trying to cash in, but who can blame them? This is the biggest pop-culture event that could be conceived of barring John Lennon's resurrection and a Beatles' world tour. Magazines are going to make it their cover story. Newsweek and the Village Voice ironically put Star Wars on their cover, only then to scold the movie for hyping itself too much. I don't know if that's more or less responsible journalism. I'm going to see it Wednesday at 12:01 AM, but I won't be making any trips to Taco Bell to get a Yoda toy. You can have it both ways.

Some Movies Don't (2)

Lionette (33558) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889617)

As I recall with great interest, 'The Prince of Egypt' didn't merchandise very much, believing it tasteless to have little plastic Moses figures in your McDonald's Happy Meal.

As for 'no one needs that much money'... that's like saying 'no one needs to live forever'. The implicit question is: 'What would you do with it all?' If you honestly have no idea how to spend 'too much money' responsibly and in a way that would benefit several good causes, check out Elizabeth Barrette's excellent What to Do With Entirely Too Much Money [] . I bet you'll think twice next time you buy that lottery ticket.

No surprise, though... (3)

Quaternion (34622) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889620)

It's probably pretty obvious by now to everyone over the age of 13 that Lucas has sold out... But clearly this isn't the first time, right? I mean, I remember buying the Star Wars cereal when I was five or six, collecting the Ewoks cards at the bottom of the box... I had Land Speeder and the Ton-Ton with the rubber belly that I could stick my Luke action figure in, and my next door neighbor had the plastic Ewok village. I don't know about Empire Strikes Back, but the Return of the Jedi had *plenty* of associated marketing. Asking for purity from Lucas at this point is probably like asking for honesty and integrity from a politician. He talks big, but when it comes time to make the decisions that make the money..... If you go in for the movies today, you go for the story and the nostalgia, and attempt to avoid the hype. That's about the best anyone can hope for...

Make up your mind (1)

Garpenlov (34711) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889621)

Should we respect George Lucas because he "laid down the law" and has Hollywood doing what he says, and makes the rule and makes others follow him?

Or should we say, "it's not his fault, he had no control over all this hype?"

Which one is it?

And this is the first time I've ever agreed with something Katz has written. I'm not sure how to feel about that (btw, gotta love those question marks for apostrophes... what HAS he been writing with?)

Stop complaining. Ignore the hype. See the movie. (2)

supernaut (35513) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889623)

Katz = Complain O' Matic

Lucas = poet with a camera, who did his best to keep hype to a minimum. He also has a following, he knows it. And released the trailers/previews in such a way as to tease, but to give nothing away.

Early Reviews = from what I have seen, alot o reviewers have been giving it lukewarm reviews. But, what it all comes down to is what the fans think. Also, Ebert has seen it, and thought it a good film.

Selling out: I dont think lucas has sold out at all. He honestly hasnt had time, if you think about it, as he has been involved in production right up until release. In addition, ive noticed that there is a trend to slam those who have something big, mainly by people who lack any talent of their own.

I also think it should be pointed out, Lucas is doing this with his own money. He has every right to recoup some of it. If he didnt care, he would have pulled the money out of Fox.

I noticed that someone mentioned something about Lucas resisting DVD release. So what? Its his film. Not yours. He has every right to control how/when it is viewed, and the medium in which it is viewed. And, knowing lucas, he has something in mind.

In other words, lets stop all the complaining, see the movie. form an opinion. But or gods sakes, quit complaining about what lucas is/isint/could be/hasnt done to *your* satisfaction.

Having a vision of something isint easy. Making the vision a reality is even harder. Making a vision a reality when you have a bunch of people telling you what a bastard you are for this or that is even more tough.

Cluepon = get a vision. make it happen. you'll see what Im saying. Ill bet Linus knows what its all about.


I was thinking the same thing. (1)

Meathook (36990) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889625)

It was the Pizza Hut/Taco Bell/KFC flier I found in my mailbox that finally made me want to puke. Before I found that thing I was already pretty sick of the hype and I am a Star Wars fan too. I mean, with the line-ups and the midnight toy grubbing things were getting kinda out of hand. Every channel on tv has something about Phantom Menace at least once every half-hour (at least that's the way it seems).

When the first trailer was out my friend and I discussed it at length. Yeah, it was quite exciting, this movie is gunna kick ass, blah blah blah, but too bad those battle droids look so goddamn cheezy, and that kid looks like he's a pretty bad actor from what I've seen of him on the tv (the hype machine was just beginning to roll), etc.... The point is that I came away from that discussion with the fear that this movie is going to suck, but that noone will EVER admit it if it does. The hype is too big. People are forced to love it now.

The funny thing about hype is that it can turn the hard-core fans off. Hype will get you the masses, easy as pie. Alot of the real fans will hate you for it though.

I probably won't see this movie until it hits video. I won't be able to say I saw it on the big screen, but I feel the need to fight the hype in some way (no matter how insignificant my $8 * ? is).

Katz - an insufferable whiner (1)

L1zard_K1n6 (39154) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889626)

I won't even entertain the topic of Lucas as a sellout - he finances his own movies - who is he selling out to?

What I want to say is that Katz's continuous, insufferable whining is an really becoming quite grating. Jon - don't you have anything positive to say? I'm really starting to wonder about your psychological profile.

If the rest of you want to trash Star Wars as the worst film series in history, go ahead. I'm going to go to the theater and have some fun on Thursday.

Re:Marketing execs & not Lucas? (1)

VirtualAdept (43699) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889632)

Uhm. This seems like a silly argument. The marketing execs are responsible entirely? That..doesn't make any sort of sense, unless you're trying to tell me that the marketing execus keep Lucas tied up in a chair and force him to sign these contracts.

By the way, Ebert loved this movie! 3 1/2 stars! (2)

LordRathma (44890) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889634)

I don't normally read or listen to movie reviewers, but I do enjoy Roger Ebert and his tastes seem to mirror mine in terms of movies.

He loved the movie, said basically what others are saying about great visuals, flat characters...but he saw the movie for what it was...great entertainment! Which is exactly what I'll be seeing it for.

Give me a break Katz (5)

LordRathma (44890) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889635)

The original Star Wars movie didn't have any hype or toys before it was a small movie at the time and it didn't even get a premier! But after a few months when the movie took the world by storm, the toys, the bed linen, the product endorsements etc etc....took off like nothing before it!

But you seemed to have forgotten The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Both these movies were surrounded by incredible hype. The Empire Strikes Back was surrounded by the hype almost as much as Phantom Menace is. It was most anticipated movie ever made (the same sort of thing people have been saying about Phantom Menace).

What is the point of your article? Did Lucas sell out? Of course he did, and he'd be a fool not to! If he hadn't sold out 22 years ago with the original, we wouldn't be here today talking about the Phantom Menace...which he financed totally by himself.

What's the deal with you Katz? Your whole article reeks of hypocrisy and of the Rolling Stone magazine article submission guildlines (were they tell their writers to make sure they hate everything and slant it to make the artist look like they sold out because they were smart enough to make a buck).

Wow, you're so controversial! I hope you don't get paid by Slashdot for your articles...after all, you'd be a sellout!

Re:The Pepsi (and all the rest) case. (1)

fable2112 (46114) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889636)


Then again, heretical as this probably sounds, I'm no great fan of the original SW either. I think it's a good movie, but I disagree with what it's been hyped into. Of course, being female, I'm outside of the original movie's intended audience anyway ... :P

Why my (male) friends expect me to be as enthusiastic as they are about a film series that has ONE major female character, who spends the entire movie gradually losing the spine that she at least SEEMED to have in the beginning ... *shrug*

Lucas' strategy hasn't changed at all. (1)

Lux (49200) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889641)

I had the good fortune of meeting someone who was on the set of the the original Star Wars towards the end of the filming. He got to see a Harison Ford that was absolutely convinced he would never work again because the movie was so overbudget it couldn't possibly make any money. Lucas was confident in it's success. Lucas believed that he was making a "Disney movie," one that probably wouldn't break even at the box office, but would rake in more than enough through merchandising to create a hefty profit. Christ, I remember seeing Star Wars bedding when I was a kid!

The media has gotten bigger, but I think it would be a shame to begrudge Lucas the marketing strategy that allowed him to make the holy trilogy in the first place. The fact that he makes money off of his movies should have no impact on how we percieve him as an original and innovative artist.

Only the most pious become inquisitors.

The Pepsi (and all the rest) case. (2)

Huntred (198920) | more than 15 years ago | (#1889649)

It's easy to be captivated by the amount of money being thrown around - mostly because I (and most of us) don't operate in that kind of money on a day-to-day basis. If Pepsi walked up to me today and offered me $10 million, my first response might be "Who do you want me to kill?". However, if I had $800 million in the bank I would be in a better position to consider what that measley $10 million was worth as far as image and values are concerned.

So considering that in just ticket sales alone, it's pretty clear Lucas will be able to make his kids braces payment, it's a fair question to ask how much responsibility Lucas has himself for approving all of the ad campaigns and product tie-ins. This created the hype which he then goes on record as denouncing.


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